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Why are New York’s beaches so shitty?

Why are New York’s beaches so shitty?
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Andrew Raff

As the city's thermometers hit triple digits, many folks get the same idea: Venture to one of the metropolitan area’s sunny beaches. But while the Big Apple does many things well, between its wondrous bagels and remarkably edible dollar pizza slices, New York’s beaches are, unfortunately, not on that list.

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A classic NYC beach day typically kicks off with the epic trek to get there, since the few beaches the city has to offer might as well be in Siberia for most New Yorkers. After the journey, whether it involved being stuck in endless traffic, roasting like a rotisserie chicken on a snarled train or dodging screaming children on a packed beach bus, sand seekers are usually zapped by the stress it took to arrive.

Then the real pitfalls start to pile on like garbage on a restaurant-packed street: Sure, the city’s beaches have sand, but if you’re expecting the smooth stuff, think again. Prepare to gingerly step through the sharp and rocky variety.

Want to take a scenic walk? A jaunt along the shore involves a minefield of junk; visitors can expect to dodge everything from Nathan’s Famous wrappers to hypodermic needles and beer cans. And if you think a dip in the water provides a welcome respite, you’re sadly mistaken—unless you’re into weak surf and bone-chilling temperatures.

Despite all of the above, you’re typically also forced to push through massive crowds made of hapless tourists and exasperated residents, all forming snaking lines for the bathroom, the overpriced, limited concessions and anything else in sight. And if you dare visit on an overcrowded holiday weekend, well, you’re in my prayers.

All of it makes you want to just nose-dive into the notably polluted East River in order to grasp at a moment of cool on a steamy city summer day. Almost.

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